Friday, February 29, 2008

Going Long @ Seeley Lake

So, on the 23rd they held a little thing called the Snow Joke 1/2 Marathon (for the 29th time) up in Seeley Lake. Haven't heard any feedback on what the conditions were like, but it looks like they had a really good turnout.

The men's top 5 were:

Robert Brooks - 1:17:28 (Missoula Sentinel senior, just signed with Univeristy of Great Falls)
Satchmo Bassetti - 1:19:14 (If I knew he ran long races, would have thought this was Ray Hunt)
Brandon Fuller - 1:19:39
Matty S. - 1:19:48
Jake Roske - 1:21:23

1st Masters - Scott Gaiser - 1:23:16

A few other notables:

John Cuddy - 1:27:14
Brian Wieck - 1:28:08
Anders Brooker - 1:28:48

Obviously a solid race for 2nd through 4th.

On the women's side it was:

Julie Gilebrist - 1:32:29 (also first masters)
Jamie Schuster - 1:32:55 (:26 seconds out of 1st overall)
Jessica Johnson - 1:36:02
Maureen Hartmann - 1:36:27
Kim Joyner-O'Conner - 1:36:37

Other notable women =

Megan Lerch - 1:46:11
Jennifer Thomas - 1:46:50

Again, some really tight racing for the top spots.

Obviously a lot of representation from the Missoula area at this great kick off to the road racing season.

Next up is another of the classic Montana road races that has also been around for well over 20 years. The Locker Room Bar AOH (Ancient Order of the Hibernians) St. Patrick's Day race in Anaconda (on the 8th). Back in the day, this used to be a great party day. We would race our guts out, then hit the post-race keg, then hang out in the bar for a few more hours and play pool and drink a few pitchers of brew.

It's a race than can be super fast. It's generally aided by a trail wind; and, after the first mile or so, it's a slight downhill course. If you're at all fit and have your legs under you, there's a PR waiting with your name on it.

It's also the site of one of my favorite post race stories. A few year's ago I had the chance to travel from Billings to run the race for the first time in many years. As I was hanging around the finish area after the race, an older lady from Anacondo cane into the chute. She proclaimed to a man waiting for her at the end of the chute - "There's my favorite person - waiting for me with a beer and a smoke!" And sure enough - she crossed the line, chugged a 12-oz go cup, lit up a cig and took a long drag. Only in Anaconda (or maybe Butte).

The weekend following are the St. Paddy's races in Great Falls, Missoula and Billings.

Make sure to check out to see what's coming up on the racing scene.

See you on the roads, tracks and trails.


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Amen To Brother John

Here's John Zombro's race recap of the 4th Annual Montana Men's Master's Mile. Enjoy. I did. See the results in my post immediately below this titled "And They're Off" -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Wow! Exhilaration and exuberation! As I was jogging a brief cooldown with Kirk last night after the race the statement that seemed to sum it up, certainly for me, and ostensibly for most everyone else was "Living in the Moment". We were bantering the excited talk that only comes from the heightening of the senses we all felt last night. There was talk of future races, training ideas, and recognition of what a fabulous opportunity we had just experienced. As we came back to the Fieldhouse, we both decided that, at least for the evening, we would live in the moment and just enjoy it. Of course, we also concurred that I have been living in this moment for at least 6 weeks and it was going to last a few more days anyway. My friends and family are all saints because I'm sure if they hear "master's mile" one more time they actually will vomit.

Since I don't have to get ready for the parade (Master's Mile Weekend - that will be next year), I thought I'd write down my reflections while they are still fresh. I'll attach an official results list to this document as well, and upgrade the ever-growing race stats.

First for a few words of appreciation and I'll do my best not to leave anyone out.

To the runners who always make this race a stop on their annual circuit. Thanks for supporting and participating in the event. I know how much work it actually takes to train for this thing and some of you came a long way. This is a real brotherhood and the positive group energy is nearly unbelievable.

To Tom Olivo, who provided the fabulous Garmin GPS/HRM grand prize, hosted the party, and shared his passion for excellence with us, thank you! Tom is a true friend who embodies the spirit of our event.

To Mike Cok and Travis Kinzler, who provided generous monetary support which enabled us to have an awards ceremony that also depicted excellence. These guys really see the big picture and have taught me a lot.

To Danette Boka and Paul Segersten, who provided massage therapy services and managed our home base of operations in the fieldhouse, we really appreciate you taking your Friday evening and hanging out with (even touching) a bunch of sweaty old runners. Despite my running experiences and quasi-professional work, I've personally never had a setup that good and I think quite a few of the participants took advantage of their skills as well.

To Chris Guy, Matt Edwards, Pat O'Conor, Chas Day, and Rick Engel, who were our production crew, you did an awesome job. We have accurate records, awesome video footage/interviews, and enough data to assemble a terrific product.

To Tom Eitel and the rest of the coaching staff/officials at Bobcat Track and Field, who make this entire thing possible, we literally couldn't do it without you. You're busy enough with your jobs of coaching All-Americans and running these meets, but you find enough time and space to support a community event that promotes master's athletics.

To all the spouses, significant others (you know I don't like the word "partner"), family, friends, and yes-by-golly FANS who both tolerate and enable us, THANKS!

Now for the race. We viewed the video last night and it was both entertaining and informative. The play-by-play on tape will be fun to watch later. We forgot to take up a collection for sending the future DVD out to everyone but I'll get organized on that over the next few weeks. I thought I'd say a few words about each racer.

Peter Dan ran uncontested in a solo time trial effort that was inspiring. This created a challenge for the cameramen because he was so far ahead of the field that they had to pan in/out to keep up with him. Such a fluid stride.

Ray produced a quality effort for 2nd place with a strong finish. Even though he isn't totally healthy or fully trained, we all like to see Ray run well. He's a real performer and I think he ran in borrowed shoes. We might try to get Diamond Jim trackside for the 09 MMMM (long story). Ray continues to underestimate his abilities and it comes from his genuine humility.

Steve ran consistent with his pattern over the last year, which is to say excellent. Not only did he move to 4th on the all-time MMMM list (one race allowed per runner), he set a 6-second MMMM PR and also won the "He Who Runs With the Most Brains Award" for a nearly perfect even split performance.

Pat produced a showing of power that is typical for him. Doing much of the pace work for the chase pack, he held strong for a sub-5:00 performance. Pat is a leader in the Helena running scene and is instrumental in how these guys always rally and show up big at MMMM.

Kirk, as our senior fellow at 49, came out of semi-retirement to run a track mile for the first time in about 30 years. We have had some spirited discussions over the past few years and I always felt that we needed his talent in the race and this would be such a kick for him. Well, all that was true and when I witnessed his kick (I'll check on the video, but I think he ran the fastest last lap of the field) as he roared by on the backstretch I thought "Yea, I just had to get this guy in the race!". Kudos, Kirk.

Well, now we get to me. Much of my elation over the evening was due to my own run. Having had a number of injuries/setbacks over the past few years, I had been experimenting with low-volume, creative training methods, and they seem to have worked. I was able to run a few seconds faster than my realistic prediction and it felt reasonable (running all-out never feels like sitting on the beach with one of those little umbrella drinks---actually it would be a Corona for me). My race plan was to have flames shoot out my backside with 3 laps to go (special thanks to Susan Denson-Guy for lighting the match). It was more like smoke and it sputtered a little on the last lap, but I'll take it.

Mark produced a strong run, leading the chase pack for the first few laps. He had the guts to go out and attack a goal time. He slowed a little in the 2nd half, but we've all been there. One of these days he's going to put it all together and we all know what he is capable of.

Tim ran a race, perhaps THE race, of excellence last night. He modified his training from last year and posted a 13-second PR, fighting all the way to the line and nearly catching Mark by .13 seconds. He won the Grand Prize and defined what it is all about. He also did this in training shoes. I'd like to train this guy and I'd bet (you know how I like doing that) we can take more time off next year. If he'll just quit hanging with this trail-ultra crowd.

Randall showed that he is a dominant force in several sports, and that competitive cycling and running can indeed be complementary. His friendly and humorous nature belies the tough competitor that he is. We're all just lucky it wasn't the Master's 600m!

David, who is USATF state champion in the 200 meters, showed he can run the mile as well. With blazing finish speed, he struck terror in all those around him. After a few years of doing marathons and trail ultras, David is now tearing up the track and should post some impressive performances over the next few months. David also designed those way-cool MMMM T-shirts!

Andy, a former collegiate rower, showed the crowd what power really looks like. You wouldn't think that a guy with guns that big could run so fast, but he does. When he's not racing Harleys on the circuit around the country, Andy is working out at 5:30 a.m. (I've known this to be true but I don't think that hour of the day is meant for movement - except during hunting season - so I've never actually seen him).

Jeff, a Montana running legend, put in the work and got here. I know he wished the track was uphill on an 18% grade (if that was the case we'd all be seeing his back - actually I'd just bag it and watch) but he ran with his heart and finished with a smile like the true sportsman he is.

Craig is probably bracing for some harsh words, but they will not be coming. He worked hard for this event and was in good shape. Unfortunately, he suffered an orthopedic injury and a respiratory infection in the weeks prior to the run. Instead of scratching, he chose to run with determination and deserves to be saluted. Also, he placed himself forever in our memories with his awesome and stylistic chugging of the aged watermelon wine cooler at the party. Viva Craig!

Dan also chose to line up and give it a go. I know Dan was ill but he gets my respect for trying it out. We've all been there and you never know if you can break through and run when you are sick. The wise move was to save it and you made the right decision. Your presence was appreciated.

Chris, who may have revealed yet another of his many talents behind the camera, would have given Steve and Ray a run for it if he was healthy. He unfortunately tweaked an injury but will be back with a vengeance. That just means my placing in every race goes higher by 1.

Scott, the 3 time champion, was just being a gentleman and letting the race have a different look at the front. Seriously, he is coming back from injury and almost made it, but unfortunately picked up a bug during race week. We all know he'll be back.

In summary, an entirely magnificent evening was had and I could see my own schoolboy-like glee being reflected in many faces. We had a great discussion about aspects of master's training, shared some of Peter Dan's Black Lung Porter (excellent), and talked of future plans. In fact, PDS has been commissioned by Tom to produce another ale for our summer mile race. I'll let you guys rest a while, then start the buildup for that event. Also, don't forget I'm serious about the 8/27 Montana Master's Trail 50k Championships in Bozeman.

May you all continue in your journey for peace, joy, and ultimate fitness.

John Zombro

And They're Off

Well, the racing scene is off and (literally) running. Last Friday night (2/15) was the 4th annual Montana Men's Master's Mile in Bozeman. The brainchild of John Zombro, this event is held at the MSU indoor track in the midst of one of the MSU home meets. It's a ball and a great opportunity for the over 35 crowd to see how fast the wheels still turn over.

Turns out that Peter Dan Sullivan can still motate. He ran away from the field posting a 14 second wind over Ray Hunt. Pretty spectacular race by PDS. Below are the results; and, in another post I'll include the summary write up my Mr. Z himself. His enthusiasm for this race and the sport in general is infectious. If his race report doesn't fire you up, you're toast.

Also, check out today's edition of the Bozeman Daily Chronicle. Tim Dumas writes a great piece about John and what an all around great guy he is. Tim has written some pretty cool pieces about his running experiences and it's always a pleasure to read one of his stories about the sport. And, speaking of Tim, congrats to him on 9th place finish and a 13 second PR. Way cool Tim!!!!!!

Coming up this weekend is the Snow Joke Half Marathon. With all the snow they've had in Seeley this year, the times may be a bit off. But, it's always a great event and a good opener to the road season.

And just around the corner is the St. Paddy's day races around the state and the opening of the racing season flood gates. I can't wait, how about you?!?!?!?!?

See you on the Roads, Trakcs and Trails


1. Sullivan, Peter Dan 4:41.29
2. Hunt, Ray 4:55.68
3. Bruner, Steve 4:57.50
4. Judge, Pat 4:58.59
5. Keller, Kirk 5:00.94
6. Zombro, John 5:02.54
7. Slater, Mark 5:05.81
8. Dumas, Tim 5:05.94
9. Lundgren, Randall 5:10.73
10. Nix, David 5:13.00
11. Campbell, Andy 5:07.01
12. Thomas, Jeff 5:29.99
13. Kenworthy, Craig 5:35.89

Saturday, February 09, 2008

So They Say Time Off Can Be A Good Thing - I Think Not

You always read about people saying " The injury was a blessing - it forced me to give my body a rest and I've come back stronger than ever." Well, I've been through an extended forced rest time and I'm throwing the bullshit flag that it's a good thing.

Starting early last summer my psoas muscle (which I like to refer to as my Soh Ass) began to act up. I've had some problems with it in the past; but, I was able to get past it fairly quickly. Well, with my change of job, getting ready to sell our house and moving from Billings to Plains, I didn't take the time to get on top of it. I had seriously neglected by stretching, strengthening and core work for several months. As a result, a minor flare up turned into a serious issue.

The shortening of my Soh Ass resulted in my hips and pelvis getting out of alignment which then caused problems with my back. By September and October is was bad enough that I was missing as many days as I was getting runs in; and, there were some days where it was problematic just to walk.

In November I thought that I was starting to get a handle on it when the whole thing came back with a vengenance. Things went from bad to worse. I basically missed all of December. It really wasn't until the week of Christmas that I could even begin to run.

Well, by that time, I was fat, had lost all of my fitness and most of my muscle memory. There was no coming back stronger or feeling refreshed. I just felt old and tired. 8:00 pace was a challenge, sub-7:00 would now be in the speedwork category, and forget sub-6:00. For the last month someone else has been running in my body. Some slow old guy took over.

Thankfully in the past couple of weeks things seem to be coming around. I'm almost back up to what I consider to be my normal baseline mileage (50 mpw). My daily training pace is slowly starting to come back towards 7:00 pace, I've run up to 12 miles (hadn't been able to do more than 8 since sometime last August) and, I'm starting to look forward to starting hard workouts and getting ready to race.

But, in no way do I think that the injury was a blessing. It was my own fault to let it get that bad and it has basically cost me last summer, the fall XC season, and a couple of indoor races. And, who knows how long it's going to be before I'm back to racing normal pace again. So, there's no way that I'm going to be happy about it and I'm not looking at it as a benefit in the long run; but there's nothing that I can do about it now but move forward, be positive and do the best that I can to return to fitness.

See you on the roads tracks and trails.


Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Thar She Blows

Recently I posted about how nice it was to be in Western Montana and out of the incessent wind in the Billings area. Well, this afternoon I had a stark reminded of how bad the wind could be.

I had the occassion to be in Billings for work this week. I went out for a run during the lunch hour. To start with, our company's office is located in the far southwest corner of Billings. About 1 mile to the west you are quickly into the wide open field. No trees, no buildings, dead flat terrain - just agricultural fields that have no crops left after the fall harvest. In other words, nothiong between you and some serious tubulance.

Going out (to the west, into the wind) sort of reminded me of the Beartooth Run. I was running normal training effort; but, all I had to show for it was 9:00 miles. May as well have been running up the pass. Hell, I think that I've actually run faster going up the mountain. There were a few times wher the wind actually stood me up straight and almost brought me to a stand still.

The only silver lining is that once I got to halfway, I got to turn around and have the wind at my back. But, even with that, it was blowing so hard that it really though off the normal stride patter. Of course, I got to run 6:30 pace with very, very little effort; but, man, it just didn't feel worth it after getting sandblasted for 3 miles.

I thought that after being away for a few months maybe I had just gotten soft. So, I double checked the weather service web site. Steady winds in the mid-30's with gusts to 47 mph. And all I could think was ............................

This Blows

See you on the roads, tracks and trails